Smorgasbord Health 2017 – Weight Reduction – Some meal options

Smorgasbord Health 2017

I know that I said that I would leave you to decide what you ate based on your shopping list that I gave you at the beginning of this series.  But, I also know that boredom can set in and you can find yourself sticking to a few tried and tested meals in case you get too adventurous and put weight back on.

I am cheating with this as this post is Chapter Fifteen of my book Size Matters… but it will give you a few alternative ideas for your main meals and snacks.


This chapter outlines the building blocks of your personal programme. You must adjust the amount of food you eat according to your weight and I have included some guidelines for you to follow. Do not miss your snacks as these will help maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the day and minimise your cravings for sweet or starchy foods. There is a great deal of information now on the web that was not available twenty years ago and you will find differing opinions on the subject of snacking between meals. It depends what you snack on firstly. If it is a biscuit, bar of chocolate or a cupcake then you are not going to get far. But, when you are first beginning a healthy eating programme the first words that usually pop into your mind is ‘deprivation’ and ‘starvation’.

That is the last thing that your body needs and neither does your newly adopted willpower. There will come a time when you won’t need to snack between meals and for those of you who need to lose in excess of three stone or more, I suggest that you enjoy your mid-morning, mid-afternoon and supper snack for several weeks or even months. I lost 150lbs in 18 months eating between meals and combined with some regular exercise it is a strategy that works for most of us.

The options that I suggest for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are just that, options. Variety not only prevents you getting bored with a particular diet but also ensures that you are getting the widest possible range of nutrients. Keep checking your food groups and make sure you are including all of them as regularly as possible.

I know that there is a new train of thought that precludes all carbohydrates from the diet but I am not in favour. Wholegrains have been a part of our human diet for thousands of years and there is evidence that we were eating wild grains as far back as early man. They provide important nutrients and fibre and should be included in moderate amounts. If you do not have a very active lifestyle then reduce to a handful with breakfast and lunch and leave off your evening meal.

First though, you need to adapt the following programme for your own individual requirements. If you suffer from Candida then you need to be careful of the amount of sugar and yeast that you are consuming. I recommend that you find a source for yeast and sugar-free bread from either a local baker or a health food shop. Fruit is too full of nutrients to give up completely and I suggest that you eat apples and pears, as they have the lowest amount of sugars, and only drink fruit juices sparingly. Apart from that you should be able to follow the basic programme adjusting it in the same way as someone without Candida.


  • Eat the programme exactly if you need to lose up to 3 stone or are a woman.
  • If you are a man, and need to lose up to 3 stone, you need to add 2 snacks per day to the programme.
  • If you need to lose 3–5 stone add one extra snack per day.
  • If you need to lose 5–7 stone add two extra snacks per day.
  • Breakfasts
  • Always eat breakfast and begin with a fresh vegetable juice. I recommend carrot juice – a small glass.
  • Cereals should be natural and sugar-free. Use chopped fruit to sweeten, or a teaspoon of honey, in preference to refined sugars or artificial sweeteners.
  • If you need to lose more than 42 lbs. (3 st or 19 kg) then you can add a piece of whole-grain toast with tomato and a drizzle of olive oil or mashed banana.

Seven Basic Breakfasts – small glass of juice not half a litre….

  1. Vegetable juice, porridge oats, tsp. honey, skimmed milk, a pear and a cup of tea.
  2. Carrot and apple juice, poached egg on slice of whole grain toast, drizzle of olive oil, seasoning and a cup of tea.
  3. Bowl of fresh fruit salad, low fat yoghurt, and slice of toast with modicum of butter. Cup of tea.
  4. Carrot juice, 2 Weetabix, semi-skimmed milk, fresh raspberries and a cup of tea.
  5. Banana smoothie made with one banana, 400 ml semi-skimmed milk and 1 oz. of porridge oats. Cup of tea.
  6. Apple juice, Shredded Wheat with semi-skimmed milk and fresh strawberries and 10 gms of chopped almonds. Cup of tea.
  7. Carrot juice, two scrambled egg, one rasher of salt-free bacon and one slice of whole grain toast with a drizzle of olive oil.

Note: you can eat anything you want for breakfast.. do not think that you have to start with eggs or cereal.. you can also have chicken breast and mushrooms, spinach and tomato if you fancy it!

Seven Lunch Suggestions – I always include a small amount of wholegrains in my lunch though I usually skip with my main meal at night.


  1. Large jacket potato with herbs and seasoning. Fresh raw vegetable salad made from tomato, cucumber, broccoli, carrot, rocket and raw onion. Drizzle potato and salad with 20 ml of seasoned olive oil – (useful if you are eating out).
  2. Brown rice pilaff with onions, mushrooms served with a baby leaf spinach and tomato salad. Can be reheated at work.
  3. One corn tortilla filled with steamed red peppers, onions, and 100 gms of chicken breast. Home-made salsa with onions, tomatoes, celery, garlic and a little olive oil.
  4. 200 gms of cooked whole grain pasta with home-made tomato, basil, onion, mushroom and celery sauce. Can be served cold and taken to work.
  5. Mashed potato and vegetable pie. Mash potato with semi-skimmed milk and herbs. Vegetable filling made from steamed carrots, onions, mushrooms, leeks in a tomato puree sauce baked in the oven with 2 oz. of grated Edam cheese. Can be reheated at work.
  6. Sandwiches – if you cannot have a prepared lunch of your choice then try to make sandwiches to take to work. You can have one round of whole grain sandwiches with lean fillings such as salad, chicken breast, tinned salmon or tuna, tomato and banana. Have two pieces of fruit or a fruit juice. (Sunday evening supper)
  7. Stir-fried vegetables served on brown rice. Use 20 ml of olive oil and seasoning, finely chopped celery, onion, broccoli, spinach, bean sprouts and mushrooms.

Seven Dinner Selections

Dandelion greens salad

Begin each dinner option with a bowl of fresh salad – e.g. mixed leaves, tomato, cucumber, pepper, celery – and 10 ml of olive oil and seasoning.

Three or four times a week include half a chopped avocado. This will not only be very nutritious but also knock the edge off your hunger.

  1. Roast Mediterranean vegetables with carrots, aubergine, courgettes, squash, onions and mushrooms drizzled with olive oil and roasted. Serve with a large lamb chop.
  2. Grilled turkey or chicken breast with carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and green bean mix.
  3. Roast salmon with stuffed peppers (chopped mushroom, onion, courgette sprinkled with 1 oz. of Edam cheese). Serve with broccoli or spinach.
  4. Lean steak with roast Mediterranean vegetables.
  5. White fish, lightly grilled with olive oil and seasoning. Mashed carrots and green beans.
  6. Weekend dinner. Half an avocado and prawns with olive oil and herb dressing. Calves liver and onions, mashed parsnips, mixed green vegetables. Two glasses of white or red wine.
  7. Sunday lunch. Roast beef with carrots, broccoli and green beans. Dry roast potatoes and home-made gravy made from the meat juices and a little corn flour.

Snack Options which means keeping it down to a small plate.. not a dinner plate!


Three a day unless you require more for your individual weight.

  1. Banana and green tea
  2. Apple and orange.
  3. Carrot juice and an orange
  4. 2 rye crisp bread with sliced tomato and drizzle of olive oil.
  5. Fresh fruit salad and ½ pot of yoghurt.
  6. 10 walnut halves
  7. Slice of whole grain toast and mashed banana
  8. Half a melon filled with strawberries and a live yoghurt drink.
  9. Strawberry smoothie with 400 ml semi-skimmed milk – 10 strawberries and some crushed ice.
  10. Pot of sugar free yoghurt mixed with 1 oz. of porridge oats.

You can find all the other posts in the series on Weight Reduction in this directory.

©sallycronin 2016

Please feel free to ask any questions in the comment section and if you would like a private word then please email me


Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter 18 – Final notes and getting started.


This is the last chapter in the main part of Size Matters and there is a second section which contains some of the tools that will help you get started including food diary templates, Candida Questionnaire, weight charts and food and nutritional information. Tables do not always translate well to WP, so if you would like copies of those then contact me direct and I will send via email.

The main worry that concerns people who have lost a considerable amount of weight is that they will put the pounds back on again. I trust that you now have a better understanding of your body and the type of fuel best suited to you. The program should become a way of life, with the odd dash of high living thrown in for good measure. I have reached some conclusions about body weight management over the last eighteen years that will prevent me from ever returning to obesity.

Number one is that everybody is unique in the way they utilise the food they eat. This is dependent on lifestyle, age, sex, activity level, and to a degree genetic background. Once you have found the right dietary balance, one that offers you energy, fitness and health, you will want to continue eating that way. Take this program and adapt the basic ingredients to suit your own personal requirements. Be in control of your own eating habits and do not simply let your body dictate what you eat.

Another conclusion that I have come to is that the body has a fine-tuned detection system where food’s nutritional value is concerned. For example, if you take two people of the same height and activity level, eating exactly the same amount of calories, you may find that one puts on weight very easily, whilst the other stays at the same weight or loses weight. However, one of these diets may consist of 2,000 calories of fruit, vegetables, grains and protein, with moderate amounts of fat and sugar, while the other may consist of high levels of fat and sugar and small amounts of fruit, vegetables, grains and proteins. If the proportion of nutritional food is too low, the body may decide that there is a deficiency and start to store food to ensure that it can obtain all the nutrients it needs.

I have learned not to underestimate my own body. I did so for over forty years and suffered the consequences. This body of mine is now my most precious asset. Provided I do not meet my destiny in the form of a truck or untreatable disease, I hope to live out my natural life span with all my mental and physical faculties intact.

When I am old, I want to be active and alert, not sitting in a chair barely able to remember yesterday. I believe that the ageing process can be managed with diet and supplementation in order to prevent deficiencies which cause damage to the body and the mental faculties. Having tasted health, fitness and energy, I will not let them go easily. This one conclusion alone will keep me from returning to a heavier weight.

As you will now realise, I am very keen on my accumulation theory. My resting heart beat when I weighed 330 lbs (150 kg) was 85 beats per minute and if I was just walking gently, it would rise to over 140 beats per minute; hard work for a pump that has only one life span.

My resting heartbeat is now 45 beats per minute and it takes me 20 minutes of aerobic exercise to raise my heart rate to over 130 beats per minute. In my case, if you do the sums for the next forty years, which takes me to over 100 years old, it should convince you of the benefits of being slimmer and fitter:

Old resting heart rate

At 85 beats per minute x 60 x 24 x 365 x 40 = 1,787,040,000 beats in the next 40 years

New resting heart rate

At 45 beats per minute x 60 x 24 x 365 x 40 = 946,080,000 beats in the next 40 years

As you can see, my resting heart is going to beat nearly a billion times less over the rest of my lifetime, which has to save on a great deal of wear and tear. Remember that this is based on the resting heart rate, but the mathematics works across all levels of activity for the heart.

The same theory applies to other parts of the body, which are all now having to work less. Your joints will be able to move more efficiently at your ideal weight and there will be less cartilage damage, decreasing the possibility of wear on the joint head. Your internal organs require a certain amount of fat to cushion them from unexpected damage through accidents. However, when you reach your ideal weight, the excess fat that has been strangling the organs and inhibiting them from working as they should will be gone, and this will prevent them from becoming diseased and withered.

On the subject of fat accumulating over the years I have posted this table a number of times but it is worth taking a look at from time to time. We tend to think of things in two when it comes to food. When you put your hand in the cookie jar, do you usually pull two biscuits out instead of just one? Does your toaster look lonely when you only put one slice of bread in so you add another? Many of my clients will fill in their two week food diary before coming to see me and will point out that they have a very good diet and that they only have two plain digestive biscuits with their coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

Those four biscuits add up to 300 calories a day x 365 = 109,500 calories in a year. Each pound of body fat is related approximately to 3,500 calories. This means that by eating those four biscuits each day you will accumulate over 31 lbs of body fat. As most people are looking to lose 28lbs or so it seems logical that at least halving the intake of biscuits each day might be a place to start!

fat accumulation table

Items on the list are also healthy options but it is important to remember that you can have too much of a good thing as well. Unless you have an extremely active lifestyle your calorie requirements need to be taken into consideration and your best bet is high on vegetables, lean protein, moderate on healthy fats such as olive oil, moderate on high sugar fruits and low to moderate on grains. ‘Cook from Scratch’ and cut out the industrially processed foods.

This program is not only about losing weight to look good in a new outfit, or on the sports field, it is also about the health and functionality of parts of your body that you cannot see. When the damage has been done, it can be irreversible. Remember this when you are tempted to return to your old lifestyle. Take a look at your checklist of all the reasons why you wanted to lose weight in the first place: do you really want to go back to that? Catalogue all the benefits you now enjoy: would you want to give all that up?

New Year’s Eve 1995 330lbs

170lbs 1999

When you have finished your program, which may be in a matter of weeks, months or even years, take a photograph and put it next to the one you took at the beginning. This is your achievement and deserves to be rewarded. Celebrate a successful completion of the project and then plan how you are going to maintain this level of health and fitness.

Now it is time to design your own program and learn to live a different life than the one you are used to. Your future is in your hands. This is your chance to take back control of your weight and health and in a few short months you will wonder why you waited so long.

You will find the other 17 chapters of Size Matters in this directory. I will leave the book up on the blog until the New Year.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001 – 2015.

More details via Amazon and my own bookstore where you can also listen to an excerpt.




Size Matters serialisation – Chapter 17 – Exercise


I have mentioned walking as a form of exercise, in Chapter seven, but there are many other effective forms of exercise. This chapter will cover the most common examples. There are also several everyday activities that we take for granted but which do qualify as exercise.

chased by predators

We are designed to move fast if we need to. Predators had to be taken seriously in the past, whether multi-legged or two-legged. We have a strong skeleton, with muscles and tendons holding it together. Our joints are flexible and can withstand considerable pressure. In this day and age, however, we have come to rely on mechanical means of transport, not only when we reach adulthood but as children too.

Thirty years ago, children walked to and from school every day, although they may have graduated to a bicycle as they got older. These days, children either use a school bus service or are driven to school in the family car. Physical education and team sports can still play a part in many children’s lives, but far too many take hardly any exercise at all. This, and unhealthy modern eating practices, means that obesity in children is on the increase in most western countries.

Exercise is not just about losing weight. There are many other benefits to us. The first is to our physical structure: the skeleton, joints, tendons and muscles. All these remain healthy if put to the purpose they were designed for. Without regular use, joints seize up, muscles waste away and fat accumulates, causing stress on the body. Without exercise, our skeleton is weakened and in later years this can lead to osteoporosis. Regular exercise improves the way the body functions generally. The immune system will work much more efficiently, making us less vulnerable to infection.

Progression of osteoporosis

                     Progression of osteoporosis

Aerobic exercise maintains the body’s capacity to utilise fuel and oxygen. This type of exercise not only burns fat, it can also lower blood-pressure and strengthen the heart, rendering it less susceptible to heart attacks or valve problems. The cardiovascular system needs exercise to keep it in good condition.

Combining aerobic work-outs with a stretching and toning program helps the joints to remain flexible and the muscles supple.

Weight-bearing activities such as walking, running and weight training ensure that the bones do not become thin as we grow older. They also tone the muscles and improve our posture, thus lessening our chances of suffering from age-related structural problems.

One of the major benefits of these forms of activity is the mental and emotional strength they foster. Most people experience a feeling of well-being about twenty minutes into a moderate work-out. This is a result of natural endorphins, which are mood-elevating substances, being released into the system. Sometimes it can be hard to find the motivation to go out on a wet, windy day, but, having done so; it is amazing how good you can feel half an hour later. People often comment on how a long, brisk walk reduces stress and tension.

Toning and exercising the body is a natural way to preserve and strengthen our entire system. We have only the one body, so we may as well get the best out of it. For years I was imprisoned in my body, with neither the knowledge nor the willpower to escape. I could barely walk for ten minutes before I started the program, yet today I have no problem walking two or three miles a day. I would be miserable without physical activity and I soon know when I have not done enough: my joints, which have been damaged by all the years of carrying the excess weight, stiffen and become more painful.

One fact that caught my attention recently is that, for every hour of moderate exercise, our life span can be increased by around two hours. I have made a decision to live to the age of a hundred and still be physically and mentally active. If I maintain my program of two hours a day of brisk walking in the winter months and three hours in the summer until I am ninety-five, I will have added five years to my life.

Some of the gentler forms of exercise such as Yoga and Tai Chi are great for those starting out but it is important to have a great teacher. Even these seemingly gentle movements can cause you joint problems if they have not been used for a long time!!


Aerobics are a good way to maintain fitness, but it is not a good idea to do such a strenuous work-out when you are severely overweight, because you can damage joints and muscles and put additional strain on the heart and other organs. Before joining an aerobics class, carry out some basic research. Begin with low-impact aerobics, guided by a qualified instructor, and watch the class for a session before participating yourself. Make sure there is an adequate warm-up and warm-down period and some stretching exercises are included in the program.

You may feel more confident if you work out at home first, perhaps using a video. I started by dancing to my favourite music in the kitchen. At the time I weighed over 250 lbs. (113 kg), but I took it slowly at first, a few minutes at a time, until I felt confident about joining a class. You will soon feel the benefits. Not only will you burn fat, but you will also improve your circulation and lung capacity; your muscles will be toned and your stamina will increase.

Do not be tempted to do aerobics every day. Two or three times a week, combined with other forms of exercise, will be more than adequate. Make sure that you wear the right footwear, providing adequate ankle support, and that your clothing is not too restrictive. Keep a bottle of water nearby and stop regularly to take a drink. For every hour of aerobic exercise, you will need an additional litre of water.


Another popular form of aerobics takes place in the water. Aquarobics is ideal for someone who is still too heavy for the dry land equivalent. The water cushions the joints and offers resistance to the muscles to make them work harder. Provided you feel comfortable in a bathing suit, you can begin this as soon as you like. Again, you do not have to complete a whole hour. If you feel you are getting too tired, stop and swim or relax for a short time and then resume. You will find that, over a period of weeks, your stamina, and ability to perform the various exercises, will improve and you may then think about joining a more conventional aerobics class.

Jogging and running

Jogging and running are classified as aerobics, with the additional benefit that you are out in the fresh air. Again this is an activity best done when you have reached a certain level of fitness. Do not push yourself too hard. Start by walking and then, when you can walk comfortably for an hour or more at a brisk pace, introduce some jogging. Walk a hundred paces and jog for the next fifty. After several days, increase the level of jogging until you are completing your usual distance in a shorter time. You must ensure that you are wearing the correct shoes. Normal walking shoes will not be suitable so investing in a pair of running shoes is essential. Make sure that your muscles are warmed up before you start to jog. Walk for the first fifteen minutes at a brisk pace and then change your stride.


Cycling can be a great pleasure, although this depends on having access to pleasant places to ride. Mountain bikes have become popular in recent years, enabling us to ride on more varied terrain than the roads, which can be dangerous. As with all these activities, you should take things easy to begin with. Plan short trips of about half an hour. Save the day trips until you have the necessary power and stamina. Wear a helmet and elbow and knee protection if you are on the road, and the bicycle should have adequate lighting if you are cycling after dark. Most gyms have a static cycle and the home version can also be effective, but they can be boring unless you can watch the television or listen to music at the same time. Cycling in the fresh air, safely, is the best form of this exercise.


Swimming can be monotonous unless you set yourself some realistic targets. You can be any weight when you start swimming. However, I found that embarrassment kept me out of the pool for a long time. I was self-conscious in a swimming suit, even when I was lucky enough to find one the right size. Usually the cup of the suit was huge and the bottom too tight. I will admit to being a coward on this one and it took me at least two years and a hundred pounds of weight loss before I ventured into the water. Once I did, however, I loved it. There is no stress on the body or the joints, and it tones everything.

Start with the objective of completing one lap without stopping and progress until you are completing as many as possible within a specific length of time. An hour is ideal.

Over the weeks you can either increase the number of laps to fill the time, or do the same number of laps in less time. No safety equipment is necessary, except for a swimming pool attendant – and strong shoulder straps!


Tennis is a game I have loved since I was a child. It is competitive and can be fast-paced so, once again, wait until you have reached a comfortable fitness level before trying it. It is easy to damage the knees and leg muscles if you overdo it, so go gently.

I began by hitting a ball off the house wall for a few minutes every day, in time progressing to half an hour. This gave me an opportunity to get used to the twisting and turning that is involved. You get an excellent upper-body work-out with tennis, but you can strain shoulder and elbow joints and your muscles. It is a good idea to take lessons at first, to ensure that you are using the correct and least damaging strokes. If you are returning to tennis, then start with doubles, progressing to singles after a few weeks. You don’t have to make Wimbledon in your first season!

Weight training

Weight training tones the muscles and burns off fat. There are some simple routines to begin with, which require no weights at all. Moving the arms and legs slowly and firmly provides some exercise. Begin with arm extensions to the side and the front, clenching the fist and slowly bringing it up and down. I moved from this to lifting tins of beans and have now graduated to a multi-gym, which I use for just ten minutes a day.

I was always worried about being left with too much loose skin if I lost weight. The walking, drinking water and aerobic exercise have all played their part in toning my skin and forming firm muscle, but doing repetitions using light weights (two to five pounds each) has added the finishing touches. It is better from a fat-burning and toning perspective to develop a routine using light to moderate weights many times. Lifting heavy weights without proper supervision can damage the back and other parts of the body. Take advice from a qualified instructor. A book may not tell you all you need to know for your particular fitness level and body type.

Household chores

Finally, we should not forget housework and its benefits as a form of exercise. An hour of active house-cleaning, gardening or cleaning the car will use up around 200 to 250 calories. This, and running up and down the stairs in a normal day, can provide you with an opportunity to work out every day – and it also keeps the home looking good too!

Whatever form of activity you choose, you must enjoy it in order to feel all the benefits. Do have an occasional rest day, when you simply take a gentle stroll in the fresh air. Too much intensive working-out can be counter-productive, since the body can become tired and possibly strained. If you have a lot of weight to lose, this obviously is not going to happen overnight. Give your body a chance to get used to the new level of activity and vary your routine so that you and the body continue to find it stimulating and beneficial the whole time.

For me, there is no substitute for the way I feel when I finish my exercise. I am restricted, to a degree, by previous injuries caused by too much strain at my heaviest weight. However, I am delighted to be able to walk, swim and do weight training.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001-2015

Image mammoth

Previous 16 Chapters of Size Matters can be found here.

Size Matters -Serialisation – Chapter Sixteen. Healthy food does not mean tasteless food


Chapter Sixteen – Healthy Food does not mean tasteless food.

There is no need to use rich, high-fat ingredients to produce interesting and tasty dishes. Although the supermarkets are packed with low-fat alternatives and sugar substitutes I have moved away from using these in recent years. I am not a fan of what I term Industrial Food which is mass produced and chemically enhanced. What I do believe in is a ‘Cook from Scratch’ approach to healthy eating.

The more I have researched food manufacturing standards – and the chemical additives that saturate most processed foods – the more I have reverted to using the real stuff, but just less of it.

I don’t have a problem with semi-skimmed milk or low-fat yoghurts although I buy whole fat varieties and organic when I do use them. I use olive oil for cooking and on bread, potatoes and salads so have no need for reduced fat alternatives, which are loaded with hydrogenated fats, more dangerous than eating the real stuff.

If you like butter then learn to use a scrape instead of half a pound and this is more about your willpower than the fat content. Use full fat cheddar but slice it thinly or just sprinkle some grated cheese on your pizza or potato. Your taste buds will change as you reduce the amount of fats, sugars and salt in your diet and you will be amazed at how sweet and salty you will find processed food after a very short time.

You need healthy fats for most of the processes within your body and certainly the mistaken advice of the 80s which turned us into a fatphobic generation and carbohydrate addicts is one of the main reasons we are facing the obesity crisis today.

Use herbs, spices and basic salt and pepper seasoning to ensure that the food that you eat is tasty. Do not forget however; if you suffer from high blood pressure you need to cut back your salt to around one level teaspoon a day across all your meals. This means that you definitely should not eat any industrially prepared foods.


This is another area where you can gain weight-saving advantages simply by making your own sauces from natural ingredients. There is so much sugar in prepared sauces that you might as well sit down with a bag of sugar and a dessertspoon and work your way through it.

Make your own pasta sauces with fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, red peppers and 10 ml olive oil. Season with Mediterranean herbs like basil and you will have produced a low fat and low sugar version that would delight any Italian.

Pasta and Rice

Please use whole grain pasta and brown rice as so many of the essential nutrients are removed from white starchy foods during processing. In fact, with white rice they have to re-fortify with B-vitamins after removing all the natural stuff. Brown rice is wonderfully nutty and full of fibre and health benefits.

You will see some ideas for portion sizes for these carbohydrates in the section on designing your own programme in the link at the end of the post, but if you add lots of fresh steamed vegetables to your dish you will find that there is more than enough on your plate.

Jams and marmalades

There is no getting away from it; jams and marmalades have lots of sugar in them. Eating them once in a while is fine but try and use a mashed banana, sliced tomato, sliced egg or a little honey instead. If you are going to have marmalade on your toast in the morning then have a scrape of butter and a teaspoon of the spread. If you are exercising and following the eating programme at least 80% of the time you can afford to enjoy the taste of real strawberry jam or marmalade as part of it. Again, it is down to you and your willpower. You know what a teaspoon is and it is up to you to be sensible as after all it is your weight you are trying to lose not mine.

As an alternative to jams and marmalades you might like to adopt one of the typical breakfasts here in Spain.

Most of us associate a continental breakfast with breads, butter and jams or perhaps sliced meats and cheese. However, here is Spain a very common breakfast or mid-morning snack is Toasted bread with olive oil and a spread made from tomatoes.


It is something we eat frequently when we are out for coffee instead of something sweet and because I usually do not eat traditional breakfast now at 8.00 in the morning breaking my fast at 11.00 or 12.00 suits me better. Over the years I have developed various recipes for this simple dish and it is so easy to whip up and so packed with nutrients that I thought you might like to find out more about it.

Although the dish is really easy to make and serve, it is absolutely packed with nutrients that work on so many levels in your body and benefit virtually every major organ, your skeleton and your immune system. Tomatoes, onions, Garlic, Red Peppers and olive oil. Mega nutritious and delicious.

You can make several days’ worth and store in an airtight container in the fridge. As there are no artificial additives and refined sugars it is a great alternative to other spreads and you can enjoy any time of the day. We have eaten in the evening for a supper from time to time.

I tend to use my own homemade Irish Soda bread which is yeast and sugar free. It can be a little crumbly but delicious with the tomatoes.

Basic Tomato recipe.

You will need one tomato per serving. Using up tomatoes that have gone a little soft is great and just wash and take out the central stem. Based on four tomatoes cut into cubes and put into a blender. Add 1 dessertspoon of Extra Virgin Olive oil and a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of mild pimiento powder. Blend until a puree. The skin of the tomatoes will solidify the mix so scrape into a dish or a storage container.

Red pepper addition with onion and garlic.

To make the tomato spread especially rich and also even more nutritionally dense chop up half a red pepper, half an onion and a clove of garlic and cook off with a little sunflower oil in a pan or in a microwave without oil but a little water for 10 minutes. Add to your tomatoes and blitz it all up together.

Take a fairly thick slice of either homemade wholegrain or from a bakery where it has been made on the supermarket premises (no additives) Toast both sides and then drizzle a little olive oil over the hot bread. Use a spoon and add a good amount of the tomato spread making sure that it covers all the top of the toast.


meat and fish

Red meat

If you are vegetarian then make sure that you are using an alternative to meat, such as tofu or some other fermented Soya protein, so that you are obtaining the B-vitamins. Eating lean red meat as part of your eating programme is absolutely fine as long as you cut off most of the spare fat before cooking. I advocate lots of variety and if you are eating chicken, turkey, salmon, white fish during the week that only leaves a couple of days to eat lamb and beef anyway. Use about 6 oz. uncooked weight – and grill or roast.

Fried foods

I know that many people like a traditional cooked breakfast. If you feel you really must occasionally indulge in one, try to make it lower in fat by grilling the bacon and poaching the egg. Ideally you should stay away from bacon, sausage and black pudding on a daily basis and regard as a Sunday special. Better choices are a poached egg on toast with sugar-free baked beans, or scrambled egg on toast with grilled tomatoes.

Grill or cook in the oven, rather than frying. You will soon find that you have lost your taste for all the fat you were eating and you will notice the flavour of the food much more.

You can also use a microwave. Most items can be cooked in this way, but make sure that you get the right cooking containers.

The unbeatable fruit salad

fruit and veg banner

There is much in the media about not eating too much fruit… I agree a diet that entirely comprises fruit is not going to give you the balanced diet that you need for health. However, fresh fruit that is in season has been part of the human diet since we first were able to pick it off the trees or bushes. That is a lot longer than the so called ‘guardians’ of our food intake have been. Fresh fruit as part of your daily diet is very important and is less calorific that drinking a large glass of the same fruit that has been juiced from four or five portions.

One of the most useful dishes I have eaten from childhood is fresh fruit salad. Growing up in South Africa enabled me to sample fresh peaches and grapes straight from the orchard or vine. The first time I made fruit salad for myself, I found it a bit of a chore, but after the first week I was hooked. I am going to give you the two versions that I enjoy the most, and they are really simple.

The fruit salad can be kept in the refrigerator in a large sealed container, and it will last for four or five days. I eat it for breakfast sometimes, or for a snack. It is also something to pick at when I am cooking dinner and feel tempted whilst waiting for the meal to be ready. Not only does it taste refreshing, but it is good for you. The apple juice is cleansing for the liver because of the pectin it contains and all the fruit has vitamins and fibre, which are essential in any healthy diet.

You can eat one or two small bowls day, and if you want a change you can top it with a yogurt. I often use as a supper and add a tablespoon of cooked brown rice to the mix with a yoghurt. You will find that the preparation time spent once or twice a week is the best half-hour you will ever invest in your diet.

Normal version

Two red and two green apples, a bunch of seedless grapes, one fresh pineapple or a can of pineapple chunks in fruit juice, two pears, six plums and two large oranges. Cut all the fruit into pieces and add to sufficient apple juice to cover it. I recommend that you use fresh squeezed juice if you can and if you do not have a juicer then try one from the supermarket fresh produce counter. You do not need to use much just enough to make sure the fruit is kept moist.

Soft version

Two peaches, one melon, a large punnet of strawberries, six plums, two mangoes, two papayas, a bunch of seedless grapes and four mandarin oranges. Cut into pieces and add to sufficient unsweetened juice to cover the fruit.

You can use whatever fruit you wish. This is your alternative to chocolate and biscuits. Its natural sweetness is easily processed by our bodies. Fruit still has a calorie value, but a breakfast bowl will only be about 100 calories and is ideal for a snack or extra filler if you are hungry.

There are other ways of using fruit in your everyday diet which are appetising and nutritious. As an alternative to fizzy, canned drinks, you can dilute fresh squeezed juices with sparkling mineral water.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001 – 2015

You can find the previous fifteen chapters in the directory.

I hope that you are finding the posts useful and if you have any questions please put into the comments section. If you would like to ask a question offline then happy to help via

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Size Matters serialisation – Chapter Thirteen – Before you get started.

Losing weight is not a sprint it is a marathon and your mental and emotional attitude towards the project is a key factor in your successful weight loss.

Over the last few weeks I have looked at the factors that have led to you being overweight. It might be 10lbs or 100lbs but whatever the amount, it did not magically appear. There might be emotional, physical and mental issues that needed to be addressed such as low self-esteem, yo-yo dieting in the past or illnesses that impacted your body’s ability to maintain a healthy weight. I have also looked at foods from our body’s perspective. What it needs to be fit and healthy. Ways to identify what emotional factor has made eating certain foods so important to you.

Now is the time to put all of that preparation into practice.Over the next couple of weeks I will be introducing you to more strategies and to the tools that will enable you to manage this extremely important project. There will be high points and days when you wonder why you bothered but overall as with any marathon if you keep walking and running, you will reach the finish line.


With any project there needs to be a clear timeline with specific goals that need to be achieved. This will not be accomplished if you are half-hearted about the need to get to the finish line. There is no need to be obsessive but being organised will help.

Forms and graphs do not translate well into WP but if you would like me to send them to you once we get into the next few chapters then very happy to do so.


Before you begin your program, it is important to set some ground rules. There are not many to remember, but they will assist you in becoming successful at sensible and healthy eating.

  • Do not skip snacks or meals. Remember – you must eat something every two or three hours so that you stimulate your metabolism and keep your blood sugar levels stable. This will help prevent cravings later in the day and will stop that nagging feeling of hunger. There are a lot of articles about Intermittent Fasting and leaving a long gap between your last meal at night and eating in the morning. But if you are overweight and have been dipping into the cookie jar every time you felt the need; it will be much more difficult to stick to the programme. Despite your body continuing to work overnight it does so on standby mode. You should not go to bed with a full stomach and I suggest that you allow at least three to four hours after eating and you will get a better night’s sleep. If you finish eating by 7pm and eat your breakfast at 8am. You will have given your body thirteen hours to recover, digest and use up some fat before you begin eating again. If you can get in 30 minutes of moderate exercise before breakfast that would be even better. Then for the next eight hours or so eat moderate main meals with healthy snacks between.
  • Keeping a food diary is essential for the first few weeks of your program. Not only will it encourage you to be honest about your daily intake, but you should make the effort to learn from it.
  • For instance, if in one week you met your weight loss target, felt energetic and looked great, what were you eating to achieve that? By reviewing your diary, you gain insight into the fuel mix that works for you. It can be easy to skip snacks, thinking that you are not hungry, but you will soon see that gaps in your food diary can lead to hunger or picking at food later in the day. The diary is your basic tool to help you establish a pattern of healthy eating that one-day you will automatically keep to.
  • Make sure that you keep your food program varied. Not only do you need the full spectrum of nutrients, but you should also avoid boredom. Get out the recipe books and be creative, especially in substituting other products for fat and sugar. I have compiled a list of possible substitutes (Chapter sixteen), but if you look around you will find many more.
  • We lose around two litres of water each day, and this has to be replaced in order to remain hydrated, and to prevent our bodies from taking fluid from sources that may contain a high percentage of sugars. If you feel tired, and/or suffer from headaches and irritability, it could well be that you are dehydrated. Start the day with a large glass of water and then drink regularly throughout the day. It is better to drink a glass of room temperature water 30 minutes before your meal and then leave an hour before having another.
  • Avoid drinking large amounts of water with your main meal, since this can drown the gastric juices that process your meal and cause wind and bloating. Drink a glass of water 30 minutes before your main meal and then about an hour afterwards. There are some fluids that aid digestion – a glass of red wine occasionally, or a peppermint tea after a meal out.
  • Only weigh yourself once a fortnight to begin with, but never more than once a week – always at the same time and on the same scales. Your weight will fluctuate during the week, so hopping on and off the scales can be demoralising.
  • Control your portion sizes. Just because a food is good for you does not mean that you can eat huge amounts of it. Remember, if you eat more than your body requires, you will put on weight.
  • Alcohol may be low in fat but it is high in carbohydrates and sugars, and therefore calories. One glass of wine a day, seven days a week, can add up to 30 lbs (14 kg) of body fat a year. Try to limit drinking alcohol to special occasions, and then have only two or three drinks at a time. Drinking more than this can put additional stress on your liver which has to deal with the alcohol in your system.
  • Tea and coffee if you enjoy them should be part of your new programme. One or two cups of tea a day, can be beneficial because of its anti-oxidant properties. I love my morning cup of coffee – it is as a social event as well with family and friends and meeting for a cup rather than a meal is a way to maintain contact without over indulging. Herbal teas,are not stimulants and can be enjoyed anytime of the day. Green tea is a big part of my day as, apart from several health benefits, it also has a thermogenic effect that can help you burn more fat.
  • Stop thinking like a fat person and start thinking like a slim one. Start talking about ‘when’, not ‘if’, I lose weight.

Remember – this is not a diet! It is a healthy eating program. It must become integrated into your life, so it needs to be interesting, stimulating and non-restrictive in order to work. And as they say. A little of what you fancy does you good!


Here are the previous twelve chapters.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001- 1015

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Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter Twelve – Managing the people around you as you lose weight.


Chapter Twelve – Managing the people around you as you lose weight.

I have learned a lot about myself over the last twenty years and hope that by sharing some of my experiences in this book, you will be able to bypass some of my early struggles in your efforts to lose weight.

Know who you are

We may think we know who we are, but I remember just how confused I was when I started out on this process. Over the years I had become many things to many people and behaved differently, or was expected to behave differently, with each and every one of them.

I was a daughter, sister, friend, lover, wife, employee, employer, niece, cousin and counsellor, and this is the same for everybody; it is a bit like having a multiple personality disorder. I was constantly trying to please everybody else but myself, always striving to fulfil their idea of who I should be.

Me age 40 and 330lbs

Me age 40 and 330lbs

Be prepared for some surprising reactions from the people around you when you start on your program. You are going to be making some major changes to your appearance, and some people will find that threatening. Changing from a plump, motherly, comfortable, predictable sort of person to a slim, sexy, confident and slightly surprising ‘new you’ can make the people you love uncomfortable. Most people are wary of change and, if their perception of your role in their life does not fit with your new image, a certain amount of emotional upheaval may ensue.


Ten years later me at 50 and 170lbs

The last thing you want at this point is to feel tempted to hit the comfort food. So, as soon as you hear things like ‘Don’t lose too much weight; you will look gaunt’ or ‘You are beginning to look ill’ or ‘I liked you the way you were’, you will need to sit down and discuss your reasons for losing weight.

Husbands, especially, can feel a bit threatened if their wife and the mother of their children goes from being their ideal picture of how a mother should look to a slim and perhaps sexier looking woman who might just be paid some attention by other men. Some men are delighted to have back the woman they married, but others may need some extra attention and reassurance that the changes you are making will benefit both of you.

Mothers can always be relied on to pass comment on any changes you make to your weight, up or down. You are her baby at any age and she will interfere whether you want it or not. Mothers will spend all their time telling you to lose weight and then when you do they will tell you to eat properly, don’t starve yourself and have another cake; one more won’t do you any harm. They are natural worriers, so just accept that and try to work with it. Involve them wherever possible, and, who knows, you may just change some of their habits of a lifetime.

At this time you will also discover who your real friends are. There are those who loved to stand next to you when you were fat because you made them feel good about themselves. Start looking better than they do and suddenly they will be telling you that weight loss does not suit you, and your face looked much better with a little more padding. However, your true friends will be delighted for you. Do not pay any attention to those people who want to deflect you from your goal. Respect their feelings and involve them if possible, but do not let them make you go back to a place you hated.

Inside of all of us is a child who is still afraid of the unknown, but the unknown can also be exciting, an adventure of discovery, and, with this program, the only thing you are going to lose is weight. If you manage the changes within yourself and in the people around you, it will be immensely rewarding.

Lastly, being true to yourself is your greatest strength and you are going to need that to see you through the next few months.

The art to developing willpower

baby eating chocolate

Exercise your willpower to the best of your ability, but avoid temptation like the plague in the first few weeks of the program. Do not have open boxes of chocolates within reach. Tell friends and loved ones that the only acceptable gifts are non-edible ones. However, do not stay at home and cut yourself off from everyone and everything. You will have to learn to live with this program for the rest of your life, and it important that you still have some pleasure and do not end up feeling deprived.

Tough as it may be there are times when you have to remember that you are an adult with a serious health issue and you are not two years old and zero decision making skills!

Learn how to go out for dinner or to a party. Learn to say no graciously, so that you do not give offence (‘That was delicious but I really don’t have room for a second portion’). You can start making choices about what you put into your own mouth. Do not be afraid of offending chefs; after all, you are the customer.

It does not matter if people know you are on a diet. If necessary, tell them you are on a healthy eating program, not a diet, which is quite true. However, if people see that you are overweight and making an effort to lose the extra pounds, they will most likely respect you. Most people admire willpower. So enjoy yourself, and you will soon discover that you can have just as much fun eating healthily as unhealthily, and the bonus is that you will not feel guilty. Guilt was always a bitter sauce for me whenever I went out for a meal, but I do not have to feel like that any longer. So practice, practice, practice your willpower.

On a bad day

I would be lying if I said that losing weight is going to be all plain sailing, with no hurdles and no pain. You will have bad days. Sometimes you will have worked very hard and not lost a single pound in the week. This does happen; your body is not a machine and is subject to hormonal changes, water retention and various other internal and external stimuli. Go back and read the section on ‘The Plateau’ and reassure yourself that you are on the right path. You have to persevere, pushing through the bad days and accepting them as part of the program.

Re-read your list of reasons for losing weight in the first place. Get together with a friend who understands. I often give myself a good talking to, treating myself as if I was a client who is going through a difficult phase. Rest assured; you will come out the other side. You will continue to lose weight and you will not slip back into your old habits.

Keeping motivated as the weight comes off

There have been times when I thought I had done enough. When I had lost 56 lbs. (4 st, 25 kg), my nosebleeds stopped and my blood pressure was down, as was my cholesterol. I was walking an hour a day and, although I was still a size 26, I felt and looked a great deal better. This was a dangerous time because it was easy to convince myself that I had worked hard and that it would be unrealistic to expect to continue losing weight.

Clearly it would not have taken much to push me back into my old eating habits. However, I was still 98 lbs. (7 st, 45 kg) overweight and I had made a commitment to myself that I would see this thing through. I still could not do half the things on my wish list and I was not as healthy as I wanted to be.

Every time you reach one of your goals, you must re-focus. Be proud of what you have achieved. Reward yourself as promised; then look towards the next goal. Try not to be too ambitious. I used to focus on 10 lbs. (4.5 kg) at a time, now it is 3 lbs. (1.5 kg) at a time.

It can be very hard to get back into the program after a night out, or a good holiday, or Christmas. This is the time to sit down and look at what you were, what you are now and what you are going to be in the near future. Do not throw it all away for the sake of that chocolate bar.


When I am out walking, I often spend time thinking about the new me. This is not selfish or obsessional; it makes perfect sense. When our body is undergoing major changes, we need to prepare for each one before it happens. Not only did I visualise myself at my target weight, but I also thought about how I would look and feel along the way. Instead of the word ‘if’, I would use ‘when’. When I have lost another 10 lbs. (4.5 kg), I will be a size 20 and I will be able to travel on a cheap airline with small seats. Some ambition! However, this strategy enabled me to break down the overall target into manageable pieces, giving me the opportunity to imagine my body changing over a period of time. I got used to this image and I liked it.

Having said that, I was fat for such a long time that I still sometimes experience a shock when I see myself reflected in a shop window, or when I try on a size 16 item of clothing and it fits. Because you look at yourself every day in the mirror, you do not always see the dramatic transformation that would be very obvious to someone who sees you infrequently. I still get a kick out of people’s reactions when they meet me for the first time in years. There is nothing quite like being ignored because someone doesn’t recognise you!

It is always useful to have an important event as a target. This is not to say that I believe you should go on the program just to lose some weight before a wedding. However, I remember knowing that I was going to be at an industry dinner one year, where I had not seen anyone from my former workplace for over twelve months. I had lost about 84 lbs. (6 st, 38 kg). When I walked into the room, I felt a million dollars, and the compliments I received all evening more than compensated for the hard work I had put in. Do not deny yourself a little grandstanding from time to time. Your morale and self-esteem can use the boost and it will help you reach your next target. Be careful not to get carried away by all the compliments and think the job is finished if you know you still have some way to go.

How long will it take?

You may have a long job ahead. It is not just going to happen overnight. However, trust that the project will be completed according to schedule and celebrate each measuring point as you reach it. The goal is a healthy, slimmer individual who will have succeeded at one of the most difficult tasks we can undertake. Losing weight and then keeping it off is an amazing achievement and one to be proud of. I hope that this program will guide and support you through the process, because the rewards are so worthwhile.

Remember, it has taken you a lifetime to get to where you are now, so it is surely not asking too much to spend a few months, or even a year or two, putting things right. I can promise you that although there will be difficult times ahead, the excitement, rewards and satisfaction you will feel along the way will be incentive enough.

Enjoying the party

One of the most embarrassing questions you will be asked as you lose weight will be ‘Are you on a diet?’ You may feel that whenever you decline food or drink, your hosts and the other guests want to talk about it. My response always used to be to joke about it. Now I tell the simple truth and say that I am following a healthier lifestyle. Unless asked specifically, I do not discuss weight loss. I do, however, talk about my new healthy eating lifestyle, and how much fun I am having.


There are a couple of tips to help you relax and enjoy yourself, while also deterring people from commenting on your eating and drinking habits. At the beginning of a party when food is laid out, get yourself a large plate and put one of everything on the plate. Take it away, nibble from the plate during the evening and make sure you do not go back to the table. If you do not do this, you can lose count of what you have eaten (was that two or three sausage rolls?). This way you get to have a little of everything, people will not comment on your ‘diet’ and you will not be tempted to overdo it. As for alcohol, alternate your wine with a soft drink. Or offer to drive.

Whatever you do, enjoy yourself. Life is too short to miss out on meeting exciting people and trying your new social skills.

©sallycronin Size Matters 2001 – 2105

You will find the previous 11 chapters in this link.

The reason that I began writing Size Matters nearly 20 years ago was to record my journey. From a journal it became a message that I wanted to share. The misery of obesity does not have to be for life.

I am sharing this book free here on my blog because the need for that message is even more necessary today. Apart from the health issues there is nothing worse than looking in the mirror and feeling powerless.

You can find out more about my life and journey as well as my books here.

Please leave your feedback and if you would, click on one of the share buttons.. help me get the message out there..

thank you Sally


Size Matters – Chapter Eleven – Candida Albicans and Obesity

I know that I have posted on the topic of Candida Albicans before but in the need for continuity I am including this chapter.  There are some other issues that are included that I have not mentioned before and also a recipe for Irish Soda Bread which is one of the few breads I can enjoy.

Candida Albicans and Obesity.

The more I work with clients who have weight problems the more convinced I am that Candida Albicans is the secret, hidden, enemy of us all. I believe that a very high percentage of people, some sources say in the region of 70 percent, suffer from Candida overgrowth in a chronic form. However, what most surprises me is the high incidence of Candida in sufferers of most common ailments.

When I was studying the condition in relation to my own weight 20 years ago; I noted that there were literally hundreds of symptoms. But, naturally enough, I was only really interested in my own. Now that I am helping others with their nutritional health, I am discovering that they nearly always have Candida related problems. The most common seem to be arthritis, asthma, eczema, menopausal problems, and frequent throat and ear infections.

Candida Albicans is yeast, which inhabits all humans, but usually only in small amounts. An excess of this substance is also known as Monilia, Thrush, Candidiasis and Yeast Infection. It is believed that health problems caused by an excess of Candida effect over 70 percent of people in the western world and that the symptoms are so wide-ranging that doctors rarely diagnose the problem correctly. This means that treatment of the symptoms often ignores the root of the problem.

Overuse of Antibiotics and other prescribed medication.

The main precondition for a fungal disease to get a foothold is an impaired immune system. This can be the result of an illness, the overuse of antibiotics, intensive dieting over a long period of time or recurring infections.

In most cases, antibiotics are broad-spectrum which means they are aimed at a broad range of bacteria and not one specific identified bacterium. Without a laboratory test, it is difficult to identify which specific strain of bacteria is responsible for a particular infection, so the use of broad-spectrum drugs usually guarantees that the bacteria in question will be killed off. Unfortunately, it is not only the bad bacteria that are killed off, but beneficial bacteria too.

A healthy intestine contains a balance of good and bad bacteria, two of the friendly flora, Bifidobacteria bifidum and Lactobaccillus acidophilus, normally keep the Candida in balance. However, where this fragile balance is disrupted, the gut becomes vulnerable to an overgrowth of Candida Albicans.

What happens when normal Candida levels increase.

If Candida yeast is allowed to grow unchecked, it changes from its normal yeast fungal form to a mycelial-fungal form that produces rhizoids. These long, root-like, structures are capable of piercing the walls of the digestive tract and breaking down the protective barriers between the intestine and the blood. This breakthrough allows many allergens and toxins to enter the bloodstream, causing allergic reactions. Mucus also forms around the major organs and in the lining of the stomach. This can prevent the digestive system from functioning efficiently and if food is not properly digested the nutrients are not absorbed and the body begins to suffer deficiencies, leading to chronic fatigue.

The most common of the allergic reactions seen when Candida is present are; watering or dry, itchy eyes, itchy inner ears and dry throats that clear up after a few hours without developing into a full-scale infection. These symptoms are almost always accompanied by a craving for bread, savoury snacks such as crisps or for sweets (chocolate in particular). Sometimes clients tell me that they don’t have a sweet tooth and do not eat chocolate. However, when I read their food diary, it is easy to spot the biscuits, cakes and alcohol that are eaten or drunk every day.

Other common symptoms associated with Candida are: digestive disorders such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Flatulence, Diarrhoea, Colitis and Ulcers; disorders such as Sterility, Fibrosis, Hormonal Imbalance and PMT; Allergies, Hyperactivity, Asthma, Sinusitis, Migraines, poor memory and fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

One of the most significant problems is the strain which all the toxins place on the liver, often resulting in chronic fatigue, discomfort and depression. The list is practically endless, which generally adds to the confusion at the time of diagnosis.

It is believed that long term use of other medications including the contraceptive pill and HRT which might explain the higher incidence of Candida overgrowth in women. It should be noted that if a woman does have an overgrowth of Candida and thrush that this can be transmitted to a partner.

I have included a questionnaire, later, that I recommend everyone should complete.

I still have Candida Albicans. If I do not pay attention to my diet, it can flare up again. Itchy inner ears are the first indication that I have a problem.

The treatment is straightforward and is certainly effective. You should follow a dietary program for several weeks to eliminate as many unnecessary sugars as possible from your diet. In addition, you will find that decreasing yeast intake can help. I certainly have found that eating yeast free Irish Soda Bread rather than yeast breads has made a difference. This, combined with a simple herbal remedy, is helpful in reducing the Candida to manageable levels.

Dietary help

Candida loves sugar, yeast, starches, and foods containing moulds or fungus. The latest research is indicating that it is sugars that Candida craves. However, I do react if I eat blue cheese for example and also Marmite .It is common for the sufferer to crave chocolate and yeast extract but not necessarily together!

It used to be the practice to come off all yeast and sugars, natural or otherwise and for six weeks or so follow a very rigid diet. I do think that it is a good idea to reduce the levels of your yeast in the diet simply because it comes in combination in so many processed foods with sugar, something I consider to be the real cause behind so much of our ill health today.

Things have moved on – the fact is that most natural produce is absolutely fine to eat. This includes mushrooms which as a fungus are one of the first foods to be banned on a Candida Diet. Evidence suggests that just because Candida is a fungus it does not enjoy eating a similar organism.

The other important issue is that anyone with a strong immune system can manage an overgrowth of candida provided their diet is mainly unprocessed and sugar free.

In the last 18 years I have experimented with natural ingredients in and out of my diet and I have found no reaction to mushrooms or any other natural food on my Candida levels. I have however, reacted quickly to drinking too much alcohol, eating cakes, sweets, biscuits, fizzy drinks, processed sauces, ketchup, soy sauce, milk chocolate with low cocoa content, processed cheap fruit juices etc. In the case of alcohol it is possibly the combination of yeast and sugar (or too many glasses) – and if you look at the ingredients of a great many processed foods it is the sugar content that is likely to be the main culprit.

I have some key indicators for a rise in levels of Candida overgrowth in my system. The inside of my ears begins to itch irritatingly and my eyes start watering. If I continue to consume sugars in excess I can develop thrush symptoms.

It is difficult in this day and age to eliminate all yeast and sugar from the diet, but significant changes can be put in place overnight. There are some yeast and sugar-free breads available, such as soda bread. Use sugar-free jams and marmalades, which are now readily available from health food shops and supermarkets. Breakfast cereals are major culprits, so I suggest that, for the first eight weeks, you have porridge or yeast free toast (Irish Soda Bread) for breakfast. After that, you can reintroduce other breakfast cereals into your diet, but opt for the low-sugar variety. (You will find a recipe for Irish Soda Bread below which is really easy to make and very tasty).

It is however essential that you avoid sweet foods such as cakes, chocolate and biscuits. This is where taking Grapefruit Seed Extract helped me out.

Grapefruit Seed Extract

It is not allowed to recommend and guarantee that any natural product can cure a condition. That being said I can say that it ‘may’ help get a Candida overgrowth under control.  I have used for the last 20 years for a number of applications both internally and externally particularly for its antibiotic application.

In the late 1970s a gardener noticed that the grapefruit seeds in his compost didn’t rot. This particularly observant gardener was Dr. Jacob Harich, an immunologist (and a physicist) with a particular interest in natural remedies.

When he investigated what was happening he discovered that something in the seeds appeared to be more effective, and at the same time less harmful, than any known antibiotic. It was found that the shell of the seed was anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, which makes it an excellent natural antibiotic.

Today you can buy Grapefruit Seed Extract which carries all these properties in a naturally occurring form.

Obviously, there are times when antibiotics are essential, but a healthy person with a strong immune system should rarely need to take them. Antibiotics do not cure viral infections, such as colds. However, Grapefruit Seed Extract is not only anti-bacterial but also anti-viral. In our household we put about 40 drops of this oil into our liquid soap and this helps prevent colds being passed on by touching, the most common way of catching a cold.

Always start on a small dosage of Grapefruit Seed Extract. If the Candida is killed off too quickly, a mild toxic reaction, with symptoms similar to flu, may be experienced. Start with four drops in a little water or juice, three times a day before meals for four days. Then, increase the dose to ten drops three times a day and after a further seven days increase to fifteen drops three times a day. As a maintenance dosage and to prevent the Candida from increasing again, I take a capsule a day, which contains a measured 15-drop dose. Grapefruit Seed Extract is available from most health food shops, but I tend to buy online at Higher Nature who I find carry most of the quality supplements I take.

Other natural remedies


Garlic is also an excellent anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent. It is also a good idea to take acidophilus after a course of antibiotics. Each capsule contains billions of good bacteria, which help to re-populate the intestine. I usually take a pro-biotic every six weeks or so to help maintain healthy intestinal flora and the strength I use is 3 billion.

Aloe Vera gel is helpful to counteract the deficiencies resulting from Candida. It also helps keep body in an optimum alkaline state which is not great for the fungus.

Candida sufferers will always have to follow a sensible diet, with plenty of fresh foods, including fruit. Some people say you should not eat fruit if you suffer from Candida. My theory is that fruit provides natural sugars that our bodies are well able to process. It is the refined sugars that the body has difficulty processing. Fruit is so good for us that it would be very wrong to exclude it from the diet. Recent research on the effect of natural sugars in fruit on an overgrowth has also found little connection. I have also found that a little honey now and then on my porridge does me no harm at all. Again, it is a natural sugar that all mammals have enjoyed for millions of years.

After two or three weeks following these recommendations, you will begin to notice significant improvements in your general well-being. Your energy levels will have returned to normal, any allergy symptoms will have improved dramatically and lots of niggling aches and pains that you probably put down to age will have eased. As these improvements occur, make a note of them. They will be your barometer. For example, when my ears begin to itch inside, I know that I have overdone the sugars and I go back to a sugar-free program and the Grapefruit Seed Extract for a few days. This is a condition that you have to manage by diet, so it is important to get to know the signals your body is sending you.

Recipe for Irish Soda Bread.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees – put the rack mid oven. Prepare two 14inch bread tins – I use greaseproof paper cut to size and a little olive oil around the tin so that the paper sticks.

Ingredients – for two loaves.

  • 600gm strong whole wheat plain flour (or 500gm flour and 100gm porridge oats)
  • two teaspoons of baking powder
  • Two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda
  • Two teaspoons of salt
  • Two teaspoons of sugar
  • Two eggs
  • 600ml milk (I use full fat) or buttermilk/Kefir

Juice of two lemons (to sour the milk if not using Buttermilk or yoghurt)


  1. Add the lemon juice to the milk and stir – leave for about 15 minutes until it thickens.
  2. Sift the flour into a large bowl (add porridge oats)
  3. Add in the bicarbonate, baking powder, sugar and salt
    mix in gently.
  4. Pour in the soured milk and using a fork gently stir together.
  5. Add in two eggs and mix in.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tins and place in the hot oven for approximately 60 minutes. Check after 50 and the loaves should have risen and be brown on top.
  7. When baked take the loaves out of the oven and remove from tins. (peel of the paper if you have used)
  8. You will know they are cooked if they sound hollow when you tap them on the bottom of the loaf.
  9. Wrap in clean tea towels to stop the crust getting too crisp and leave on a rack until cool.
  10. I wrap one in Clingfilm and put in freezer and because there are no preservatives you need to eat over a couple of days. I keep one in the fridge.

©sallygeorginacronin 1998 – 2018

Size Matters Serialisation – Chapter 8 – Fluids, Eating Patterns, Intermittent Fasting, Eating Out and the Demon Drink!


Chapter 8 Fluids, Eating Patterns, Intermittent Fasting, Eating out and the demon drink!

We are often told that we must drink at least eight glasses of water a day but we are not normally told why we should do this. The reason is that dehydration is a very simple way of killing ourselves. I had no idea how important it was to drink lots of water until I started doing research into my own health, and since then I have always taken plenty of fluids. It is good to know that, in fact, other fluids do count, so it is not necessary to drink eight glasses of straight water each day, although I find now that I quite enjoy drinking filtered or still mineral water, particularly when I am thirsty.

Below are some interesting facts that might persuade you to reconsider your drinking habits:

  • Our body consists of between 60% and 75% water.
  • Our bodies lose two litres of fluid each day through urination, in our breath and through our skin.
  • We require even more fluids in warm climates or if we have a high activity level.
  • Not drinking enough fluids puts a great deal of stress on the body: kidney function, particularly, will be affected and there is a danger of kidney stones and gallstones forming; the immune function will be impaired, leaving us more prone to infection.
  • Lack of water causes a number of problems that we tend to shrug off: such as headaches, or irritability – particularly first thing in the morning.
  • Children suffer from dehydration very quickly and this can sometimes be the cause of behavioural problems. Other symptoms are aching legs, water retention, poor skin tone, circles under the eyes, dull and lifeless hair, lack of energy and inefficient break-down of fats.
  • Drinking water actually helps prevent ‘water retention’. This is because our body knows that it will die very rapidly without fluids, so it keeps as much as it can in reserve.
  • Anyone who is taking medication on a continuous basis needs to ensure that their system is flushed out daily, in order to prevent a build-up of toxins in the cells, kidneys and liver.


Now we can see why water is so important. Here is something else to think about. Loss of skin tone. I lost around 154 lbs. (11 st, 70 kg) over two years initially and, while I think a tummy-tuck would be a good idea, I do not have folds of loose skin and my face has not sagged any more than is normal for my age. In fact, people comment favourably on my skin, despite all my years in the sun when I was a child and since living in Spain. I put this down to a healthier diet, walking and water. I am sure that these regimes explain the elasticity in my skin and I can assure you that I always have a bottle of water close at hand.

Water is essential: without it we die, yet many people are proud of the fact that they never touch the stuff! It was certainly something that I used to boast about. It is immensely important to get your children drinking water and natural low-sugar and diluted juices as soon as you can.

If you cannot stomach water, although this is by far the best way to take fluids, then look at herbal teas, vegetable juices and some caffeine-free teas such as green tea or Rooibos, both of which contain excellent anti-oxidants. Anti-oxidants act a little like a vacuum cleaner. They travel through the body sucking up all the damaging free radicals that are causing damage to cells. Even ordinary tea has its benefits, although it is a mild diuretic, so make sure you also drink other fluids during the day.


Sweetened drinks

Do not give children diet drinks, and be sure to resist them yourself. I used to drink diet drink after diet drink, and half an hour later I would be desperate for another. Artificial sweeteners are as bad for you as sugar. They fool the body into thinking that you have taken in usable energy, whereas in fact it has received only one calorie. The body does not release any energy from the cells and you end up feeling tired, and desperate for your next fix. Artificial sweeteners are currently undergoing research because of concerns about possible links to a number of diseases including cancer. To be honest, drinking more than a medium glass of fruit juice is too much sugar each day. Eat fruit by all means but the concentrated juices are not recommended. If you enjoy them then squeeze your own and mix an alkaline juice with it such as carrot.  I usually dilute mine with some sparkling water and this is very refreshing.

Sugar in any form is not good for Candida sufferers. The only sugars that I recommend for people with Candida are the natural ones in fruit and honey. Our bodies have taken thousands of years to evolve, yet in the last few hundred years we have bombarded them with refined sugars, additives, preservatives, prescribed medication and environmental pollution. Enough. At the very least we should ensure that what we put into our bodies is as natural as possible, foods that our bodies are able to handle, such as the natural sugars in fruit and honey. If you are following the alternative treatment for Candida in the form of Grapefruit Seed Extract, you should be able to have some natural sugars without compromising the treatment.

How many times a day should I eat?

I have starved myself so many times that the question I used to ask was ‘how long can I manage to go without eating’? What I did not realise was that I was creating my own little mini-famine every time I went 24 hours or longer without food. Most days I would have a cigarette and a cup of coffee for breakfast, followed by six or seven cups of coffee during the day, and several hours later I might have some meat and a few vegetables. I was paranoid about eating after 6.00 p.m. unless I was going through one of my periods of bingeing, in which case I never stopped eating. Similarly, many of my clients will bemoan the fact that they ‘eat only once a day’, usually followed closely by ‘and I still can’t lose weight’.

If we use a car as an analogy, it is easy to see that a car’s engine has lots of moving parts. It requires fuel and objects most strongly to the wrong fuel being poured into its tank: it would come to a grinding halt if you put a pound of sugar in the tank. Clever thing: when it has the wrong fuel, it stops dead! Unfortunately, we do not stop immediately when we take in the wrong fuel. We keep going until an illness or infection comes along and forces us to stop for a while.

Like a car, our body has a constant requirement for fuel, but it has to be the right type of fuel and the mix is important. We use between 50 and 650 calories an hour, depending on our activity level, and we must have a continuous supply of fuel to enable us to function efficiently. Eating is like putting a cheque into the bank: it takes a while to clear. Often we can still feel hungry after a heavy meal. If we have not eaten earlier in the day and then have a lot of carbohydrates for lunch, we get that feeling of tiredness and lethargy. This is because we have the wrong fuel mix, where all our food is concentrated into one meal instead of being spread into other meals throughout the day.

I have experimented a great deal with meals and timings and I achieved my optimum fitness and energy levels when I introduced my body to the concept of six meals a day: breakfast, snack, light lunch, snack, main meal, snack. My blood sugar level stabilised, reducing the cravings in the late afternoon and evening, and my energy level stayed more or less constant throughout the day. I never felt hungry and I was able to complete my exercise regime at various times of the day without feeling tired.

Intermittent Fasting.

This was fine when I was losing weight as I was also exercising a great deal. Now that I am 20 years older and moderately active I have moved to Intermittent Fasting. Some refer to it as the 5:2 diet where you eat normally for five days and only eat 500 calories within 8 hours on the other two.  I admit that I found this tough so moved to eating my meals everyday within an 8 hour period.  Depending on your schedule and activities you can drop either breakfast or dinner in essence. I find that I am not counting calories.. I cook from scratch and eat between 11.00 or 12.00 until 7.00 or 8.00 each evening.

I have been following this for just over a year and find that it suits me.  My weight is fine as I swim or use my treadmill for exercise. My blood sugar levels are normal as is my LDL cholesterol.

If you want to find out more about this way of losing and maintaining weight here is a link you may find interesting.

Getting into a regular pattern of eating.

Which ever pattern you adopt it does help if you can stick to it. There is a great deal of research about the fact that we were opportunistic eaters and would go hours without food.  This is where intermittent fasting comes in as it does allow the body to process the food and also to recuperate.  However, young children, growing teenagers and also adults who have extremely active jobs or lifestyle need to eat in a more traditional pattern of breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks between of fruit and nuts if needed.

I would therefore only recommend that you approach eating in this way if you are 40+ and only have a moderately active lifestyle.

The biggest improvement I found in regulating my eating was in night-time snacking, much of which is caused by boredom. I would have eaten my dinner, be sitting watching the often dismal offerings on television, and have an overwhelming urge to check out what was in the fridge. I will deal with this little habit when I talk about willpower in Chapter nine. On my eating program as I lost weight, I would eat six times a day, including a snack at about 9 p.m. Some of my clients actually have two evening snacks built into their program. There is something very reassuring, especially in the early stages of the program, in knowing that you have not finished eating at 6 p.m. and that you do not have to survive with nothing to eat until 8 o’clock the next morning.

I can remember, on various diets over the years, waking up in the morning and agonising about what I would eat in the three meals I was allowed that day. Now I don’t even think about it. Even though I now skip breakfast on my current eating programme; my body knows that I am not going to go hungry, that I will be eating again in a couple of hours.

The other benefit to the eating program is that it stimulates the metabolism. Like a well-oiled engine, your body will be working away, using energy to process the food you are eating regularly. It takes calories to digest food, so look upon it as a form of exercise.

This is also where reducing the grain carbohydrates as you get older and increasing your healthy fats pays off.  It takes a lot less energy to burn carbohydrates that you eat than the good fats so you can improve your weight loss by making that change.

The biggest problem my clients seem to have is finding the time to eat, a complaint that tends to subside after the second week, by which time they are slimmer and have much more energy.

Can I still go out to eat?

Of course you can. Remember that this program (a bit like a puppy for Christmas) is for life. If you are going to embark on a new lifestyle, you must build in plenty of enjoyment.

When we used to go out to eat, I would do one of two things. If I was in ‘fat mode’, I would skip the starter, have fish or chicken and salad for the main course and no dessert. (God forbid that the waiter would go into the kitchen and tell the staff that a fat woman was asking for Baked Alaska, no wonder she is that size! I used to imagine them peeking out of the kitchen door and wondering how much I was going to eat.) After such an insubstantial dinner, I would go home and raid the refrigerator.

cake eating

If I was in ‘diet mode’, however, I would use eating out as a reward: I have been really good all week, so I deserve a treat. (Forget atmosphere, service and conversation; give me everything on the menu! I would look at the desserts first and then decide what to have for a main course.) Does all this sound familiar?

Nowadays when I go out, I go for the whole experience. I love dressing for the occasion, watching the other people in the restaurant and enjoying good service. My obsession with eating has been replaced by an appreciation of flavour and presentation. I often have a starter, but find most of the fatty choices give me indigestion, so generally I opt for soup or seafood. I do not usually have a dessert, but, if I do, I will have made that decision after finishing my main course. Sometimes I will have a cup of decaffeinated coffee and an after-dinner mint, occasionally a brandy or a certain Irish cream liqueur. Main courses with rich sauces and fats no longer appeal to me, but I do enjoy a plain grilled steak, salad and jacket potato.

The word ‘sometimes’ is the key here: ‘occasionally’ is another word I like to use. I used to do everything to excess: smoking, drinking, and eating. Today I enjoy occasions: birthdays, parties, going out two or three times a month. I no longer experience a daily eating frenzy: instead, enjoyment comes from appreciating a special occasion.

When you eat out, do not let it be an excuse to put back all the weight you have lost during the week. Most restaurants now cater for the more health-conscious diner: salad, soup or fish for a starter; steak or salmon, with vegetables and jacket potato or salad, as a main course; fresh strawberries and a little cream for dessert; a couple of glasses of wine and a brandy to finish. You presumably hope you will live a long time, and enjoying a dinner out once in a while is an important part of life. Changing your lifestyle should not mean cutting out everything that brings you pleasure. Do not become isolationist in your obsession with losing weight. Your partner/family/friends love you and want to share things with you. How many times have you been asked out to dinner and said, ‘No. I’m on a diet’? Get out and enjoy yourself from time to time. Make it their reward not yours, and just go for an extra walk that day!

What about alcohol?

Yes, indeed, what about alcohol? As with most things, I would sometimes drink more alcohol than was good for me! I still drink a little too much on occasion, but now that my system has been detoxed my body regards alcohol as a poison. As soon as I drink more than a couple of glasses of wine or spirits, I get the hangover from hell. Furthermore, since alcohol is pure sugar and yeast, my Candida is prone to flare up after a weekend of partying. So, one way or another, I now exercise a great deal more restraint than before. However, I still enjoy the odd glass of wine or a cold beer once or twice a week.

As with food, I no longer drink just because it is there. When we have a party, we might have a fridge full of beer and white wine, a cupboard full of spirits and a rack of red wine left over. However, I am simply not tempted, because I feel so much better without alcohol in my system.

Alcohol may be low in fat, but it is high in carbohydrates, primarily sugars and yeasts. If you have Candida, it will take you longer to get the condition under control if you continue to drink. I suggest that you try to give it up for the initial eight weeks of the program. Failing that, it is better for your system, particularly your liver, if you have one drink a night rather than ten on a Saturday. Again, this is about living your life. Do not deprive yourself of everything you enjoy. Moderation and a little bit of thought is the key.

The best way to enjoy drinking is to go dancing at the same time. I always try to balance indulgence with exercise. I don’t feel so guilty and I find I can still lose weight without depriving myself of a little fun now and then. The other problem about drinking is that, after three or four drinks, your judgement is impaired and all sorts of evil thoughts can creep into your head on the way back from the pub, like ‘Chinese take-away’ or ‘Fish and chips’!

How do I cope with Christmas and holidays?

It can be difficult getting back into a healthy eating and exercise program after a break such as Christmas or a holiday. You will probably have let things slip, eating foods that are higher in sugars and fats, and once you start, it can be tough to stop. It is better to find ways of celebrating or taking a holiday without straying from the program.

When we are on holiday, we generally have more free time, so make sure that you use some of this to walk and exercise more. Drink plenty of water and try to stick to your usual breakfast, lunch and snacks between. Eating out in the evening can still be fun, but choose carefully when you are ordering, and know when to stop.

As soon as your holiday is over, make a commitment to get on the scales and restart the program immediately. It is imperative to get into the swing of things as soon as possible. The longer you leave it, the harder it will become. Set a realistic target for a few weeks ahead. Find an outfit that does not quite fit and aim to get into it by a certain date. Take up a new activity. Re-focus on your original goals and visualise yourself achieving them.

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters 2001 – 2015

The previous chapters of Size Matters can be found here.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions.

Size Matters – Serialisation – Chapter Five – The Emotional Factor

This week a look at the emotional factors in our lives which can hinder our approach to a healthy lifestyle.  It is extremely rare for people to have a perfect life. It is usually a balance of good and challenging learning experiences but some people have a dreadful start in life. This creates an uphill path that takes courage and also determination to overcome.

I was very lucky to have had a warm and loving family and many of the events that were damaging to my emotional health were self-inflicted.

There were physical triggers but it was also the emotional factors that I had failed to deal with that also created a barrier to me dealing with my eating and weight issues.


Chapter Five.. The Emotional Factor.

Fairy tales are a part of childhood. They are wonderful stories that leave a child spellbound. Real life, unfortunately, is not quite the same. Many people have experienced major emotional ups and downs since their early childhood and hearing their stories can make you count your own blessings.

My family always offered me love and stability. My two sisters did everything with me. Two of my stronger memories from my time in Ceylon are of my sister Diana taking me swimming and my sister Sonia making me smocked dresses with ‘knickers to match’. One of my party pieces was to flash these knickers whenever I was complimented on my dresses, a habit I thankfully soon grew out of.

Scan14a - S & D with baby Sally

My brother, who arrived when I was four, knocked me off my perch as the baby of the family and like any child of that age with a distinct lack of communication skills; I decided that acting up and being a pain would help divert attention back to me.

All in all, my early childhood brought travel and memorable experiences that I shared with the family. My teenage years were also normal, with boys coming and going and I suffered no serious damage to heart or ego.

sally wedding day 1980I was on the rebound from my first serious romance when I met my former husband. Only nineteen and ‘a woman of the world’, I was swept off my feet by this tall, dark and good-looking man who was six years older than me. We were engaged by the spring and married five months later in a lavish wedding with all the trimmings. The fairy tale was not to have a happy ending. The simple reason was that our love was not strong enough to overcome the differences between us or the challenges we faced during our five years together.

Relationships are about two people and it is two people who end up suffering in these situations. It was the most emotionally devastating time of my life and food certainly was my drug of choice.

For years I carried the pain and the sense of failure that invariably follow after a broken marriage, but ultimately I learned to move on. However, over the years, talking to many other people about their lives has helped me to see that nearly everyone has suffered from some form of emotional trauma in their life. Childhood abuse, broken marriages and miscarriages are far more common than we think. The mystery to me is that, if it is so common, why are we are not better prepared for it?

sally wedding day 1980

However, whilst not quite a fairy tale, my own story also has a happy ending. Life can be wonderful and I know that if I had not experienced the challenges in my first marriage I would not appreciate my second as much as I do. Taking lessons from disastrous experiences does put a positive spin on it.

The last thirty-five years have been great, but there have still been times when the two of us had to make an extra effort to maintain the strength of our relationship. David and I have lived and worked apart quite a lot. When we lived in two countries, only seeing each other once a month, it was particularly difficult, because we are not just husband and wife, we are friends too. I enjoy our conversations, going to the movies together and sharing a weird sense of humour.

I would be lying if I said that we had a perfect marriage, but then I don’t believe that such a thing exists. Writers of romance novels and films have perpetuated the myth of the ideal marriage. I do believe, however, in a partnership where two people, often very different, can come together in a relationship founded on a strong friendship spiced with a healthy dash of passion and emotion. David and I are strong-minded people and like getting our own way, but we have a good marriage and I think that I would be bored stiff if it was all peaches and cream.

As a young woman, my expectations of marriage and life in general were seriously unrealistic. I believed that I would be swept off my feet, have lots of children and live happily ever after. I was emotionally immature and naïve and so had some tough lessons to learn. This is just part of the learning that we have to do as we grow up, and it has done me no real harm. Looking back over the years, I can see how I have evolved into the person I am today. I can also recognise when food played an active part in my emotions of the day, as much a reward as a consolation.

How many times did our parents tell us that, if we were good, we could have some sweets? If we were hurt, we were given chocolate to make the pain go away. We were told that, if we finished all our dinner, we could have pudding. Do you hate cabbage and love biscuits? We were told that there were starving children in Africa and we must never waste the food on our plate. How many of you today treat yourself to a bar of chocolate if you have been good, or had a hard day? It is truly remarkable how strong a link there is between how we feel and how and what we eat.

I have learned some positive lessons from my experiences and know that I will certainly learn more in time to come. Life is like that. Of course we must dream and plan for the future, but it is always wise to expect the unexpected, and to be strong enough to handle it when it comes. Encouragement, love and loyalty from those around us are far more useful than the ability to unwrap a chocolate bar. A support network of friends and family and the ability to build on our own strengths are vital elements in our personal development. It is amazing how different things look when we feel great and look good. It then becomes possible to turn some major dramas back into the minor soap-operas they really are.

Identifying the emotional highs and lows of my life enabled me to see that, when something went wrong, I turned to food as a source of comfort. I had now reached the point where I could see the need to develop more constructive behaviour and it became obvious that I required help in transforming the habits of a lifetime. I realised that it was necessary to translate the information I had gathered into a working program that was mentally, physically and emotionally balanced. To lose 150 lbs. (10 st 10 lbs., 68 kg) in a healthy way, over an extended period of time, was the challenge. The time for reminiscing was over and I was ready to do the work.

I studied and obtained nutritional therapy qualifications; researched health issues connected to lifestyle and diet and read every book or article I could get my hands on. I wanted to solve my own problem in the beginning but discovered that I could share this vital knowledge with others and help them take back control of their weight and health issues too. I applied all the management expertise I had gained over the previous twenty years to planning the project: I set myself some realistic and achievable objectives and applied good measurement procedures. I followed the principle that you are not really aiming to get to your goal if you do not measure where you are, on a regular basis, just to see if you are getting closer.

The next chapters outline the project plan that has taken me to where I am today. When you come to complete your own plan, much of the detailed work will have been done for you. With luck, the lessons I learnt the hard way will make it easier for you to tailor your own plan to achieve your target weight.

Some of the solutions that I first offered when I began writing this book 18 years ago were based on my theories at the time. Thankfully many of those theories have been backed up in recent years with scientific studies. They have also been verified by the results achieved by my clients putting those theories into practice. The good news is that I have now created some shortcuts for you that will make achieving your weight and health goals much easier.

All I ask is that you read the next chapters with an open mind. Complete the analysis part of the program before you actually try to lose weight. It is essential that you understand the reasons why you became overweight in the first place. This is a three-dimensional eating program, designed by you to achieve your target weight loss. I can illustrate here the solutions I used for my own success, but you will probably have to come up with one or two of your own. The more you put into this part of the exercise, the more you will own it. Ownership is very empowering and I promise that, once you begin to feel in control, you will not give up easily.

Previous chapters are here:-

©sallygeorginacronin Size Matters – 2001 – 2015

Would love to have your feedback and please feel free to share.

thanks Sally

Size Matters – serialisation – Chapter Four – Physical Triggers.

Chapter four of my book Size Matters that I began writing 20 years ago and first published in 2001. The journey that I embarked on at 42 years old was very tough at times. I had to recognise my own behaviour and responsibility in achieving this hugely successful weight gain and I also had to relive certain painful times in my life. I did at least get some comfort from the fact that there were some external factors at play that could shoulder some of the blame.

My reason for writing this book was to spread the message about obesity and how you can change your health by adopting a different approach to eating. So I would be grateful if you would share.


Physical Triggers.

Looking for physical significance in the pattern of weight loss and gain in my life has been a complicated process. The first step was to look at all the times when I was overweight and see if there was in fact a physical or emotional trigger for that particular phase.

I have been overweight, in a significant way, at least five times in my life. Up to the age of eleven I seemed to have been tall and well built, but not particularly heavy. As I mentioned earlier, photographs, taken after this time, show that I had gained a considerable amount of weight over a relatively short period. I was looking for a physical trigger for this change, apart from the upheaval caused by moving to another country and another school?

To answer this, I have to fast-forward to when I was forty five and living in Ireland. I had worked really hard and managed to get my weight down to about 210 lbs. (15 st, 95 kg), but from that point on I seemed to hit a brick wall. I was walking for a couple of hours a day, I ate sensibly on a low-fat, moderate carbohydrate regime, but I could not seem to shed any more weight. Despite this, I was experiencing some disturbing symptoms that worried me sufficiently that I had blood test done to see if that would uncover the source of my problem. I was feeling very tired and I had watery and itchy eyes, my ears constantly felt irritated and I was having mild dizzy spells. I had also developed an overwhelming urge for sweet food and bread. Having spent three years learning to control the urge for chocolate and sweets, it was frustrating and a little frightening to be in this position. At that time, a new range of biscuits and cakes came on the market which were low in fat. I had being eating these for several weeks and it was not unusual for me to eat a packet a day. My weight started to creep up again and I became increasingly concerned that all my hard work was going to be for nothing.

The blood test showed that I was not suffering from diabetes. However, I still needed to find some answers. David got on the Internet and searched for some of the symptoms that I was experiencing. We got back some very interesting information, some of which could have been relevant to the problem. However, it was the data that we obtained on something called Candida Albicans that set alarm bells ringing. Later in the book there is more information on Candida, and a questionnaire that everyone who is overweight should complete.

Candida is a fungal infection of the intestine. There is a delicate balance of bacteria in our gut and it works very much like a waste-disposal unit. However, certain conditions can activate changes in the balance between healthy flora and this opportunistic fungus, and this can result in Candida taking control of the intestine. Candida is a yeast that thrives on sugar. Among the many symptoms of this condition is an irrational craving for sweet foods and bread, which of course contains both yeast and sugar.

The list of symptoms attributable to Candida seemed endless, but when I completed the questionnaire, my score was so high that there was no doubt at all that I was indeed suffering from an overgrowth in its most chronic form. While it was an enormous relief to have identified what had been causing my problems, it was devastating to realise that Candida had been a part of my life since childhood and was likely to be one of the main reasons for my weight problems.

You will not be surprised to learn that one of the prime causes for this condition is the use of antibiotics, and also some other medication prescribed for conditions such as asthma. Once I realised this, I put together a chart showing the periods in my life when I had experienced weight gain. Bingo! In every instance the weight gain followed heavy doses of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of reasons. In one way this discovery was reassuring. Overweight people often look for a physical problem to blame for their condition, such as their glands, so it was a revelation to learn that there might indeed be a physical reason for my excessive weight gain.

Tracking back through my history, I saw that until I reached the age of ten, I did not have a weight problem. When we lived in Cape Town I suddenly developed chronic tonsillitis and was sick every few weeks, until I had my tonsils removed. Each bout of tonsillitis was treated with antibiotics and, within a few months, I had gained 30 or 40 lbs. (14 to 18 kg). The photographs taken of me leaving Cape Town, and on the ship coming home, have always been a source of embarrassment to me, including the one of me in a bright yellow dress and red shoes which made me look like a little barrage balloon!

The weight slowly dropped away from me over the next few years. Photographs show me as chubby until I was about sixteen, when there was a marked change. Remember that it was the 1960s and we had some pretty skinny role models then, such as Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton. The mini-skirt was the ultimate fashion item of the day and podgy thighs looked horrendous in them.

I started skipping meals and hiding the fact from my parents. They naturally assumed that the money they gave me for my school lunch was being spent on just that, and not on cigarettes! My weekend and holiday job was working in a seaside café, where lunch was provided. This was always fish or sausage and chips, and I must admit to sampling the whipped ice cream from time to time – like every day! But hey! Someone has to carry out the quality checks!

The food we had at home was always filling and my father was partial to steamed duffs, as he called them. Made with suet and filled with either steak and kidney or treacle. Because it was assumed that we had school lunches, my brother and I would just have a tea during the week, but at the weekend it would be my father’s specialities.

My next phase of serious weight problems followed my miscarriage at age twenty one. This occurred quite late in the pregnancy and was very badly handled. In those days there was no counselling of any kind, which certainly did not help my emotional state. Once again though, it was the large doses of antibiotics which played havoc with my system. In the six months following the miscarriage I was on a self-prescribed course of chocolate and alcohol which did not help my weight in any way.

Between the ages of twenty one and twenty five, I gained and lost 30 to 50 lbs. (14 to 23 kg) continuously. My day revolved around shopping, cooking and eating. Nutrition was never a consideration. However, when I did decide to lose a bit of weight I would embark on the only diet that I believed worked. That was the one where you put no food in your mouth at all. A couple of glasses of wine and the hunger pangs went away. Not a healthy time from both a physical or emotional perspective. By the time my marriage broke up, I weighed about 200 lbs. (14 st 4 lbs., 91 kg).

Money was very tight over the next few years and, thankfully, certain food and drink items were no longer necessary, or indeed affordable, as an anaesthetic. I worked and lived in Sussex and in Wales, and meals were provided with my job. Hard work, eating very little, and smoking to stave off the hunger pangs, contributed to a substantial weight loss over the next three years.

sally wedding day 1980

I met David when I was twenty seven. I was at my lowest weight ever and thought I looked the bee’s knees. Unfortunately, as I realise now, I was not terribly fit. I repeatedly suffered from chest infections and thrush (Candida), and was put on several courses of antibiotics. I always had the feeling that I was just about to come down with an illness: colds, coughs, and any infection that was about. I now realise that for the two years before I met David, I was anorexic. Eating little more than 750 calories per day – and using rituals and very strict rules about any food that I did consume.

We married in November 1980. My eating habits improved and my exercise level increased, because I began helping out on the sheep farm where we were living. After about six months we moved to Liverpool and I started work in the city centre. We were saving for a house and working hard. There were little treats, however, which began to take their toll. Sunday morning breakfast in bed, for instance. Two rounds of bacon, tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches and a family packet of those tasty chocolates with the less fattening centres – that was just my portion!

After about a year I developed an abscess under a tooth. This was not unusual for me, because I had suffered several in the past, but on this occasion it nearly cost me my life. Since we were fairly broke, I attended the Liverpool Dental Hospital and was treated by senior students that ‘needed the practice’, which is not to imply that they were in any way at fault. However, as is normal practice, I was prescribed antibiotics. Eventually, after several weeks of root-canal treatment and medication, the dental students were not able to save the tooth and so had to extract it. The infection was so bad that I was given an injection of penicillin. We flew to Ireland that weekend for my brother-in-law’s wedding and I became ill and was rushed into hospital in Cork. We now know that not only had the infection spread throughout my entire system but I had developed a blood clot after the tooth extraction that had spread to my lung. So it was blood thinner and more antibiotics!

After this episode, my weight ballooned to over 220 lbs. (15 st 10 lbs., 100 kg) and I didn’t manage to lose any weight until we were living in Texas in 1986. We lived in the United States for two amazing years. While there, I led a healthy, active life, with a diet which consisted of lots of fish, salads and vegetables, and I was not sick once. By the time we returned to England in 1987, I weighed about 180 lbs. (12 st 12 lbs., 82 kg), which was not hugely overweight, given my height. Encouraged by the fact that 40 lbs. (18 kg) had stayed off for about two years, I decided to lose another 30 lbs. (14 kg) and really get my life in gear.

A new diet of 600 calories per day was in fashion in 1987: a diet bar for breakfast and lunch and then vegetables in the evening. The promoters promised a weight loss of 30 lbs. (14 kg) per month and I achieved that very easily. I was hungry but triumphant at less than 155 lbs. (11 st, 70 kg). Unfortunately, within two months 40 lbs. (18 kg) had leapt back on to me from ‘nowhere’. My diet was good: three meals a day, no fried food, chocolate or alcohol. A normal, everyday eating program. So how did the weight gain occur?

When I was tracking all this at the age of forty five, I was simply writing down the sequence of events. Clearly, the use of antibiotics was a primary cause, but this was not the only factor. It was also obvious that I had been suffering from Candida from the age of eleven. What was also becoming clear was that after each crash diet I would put on more weight than before and another pattern was emerging.

By the time I had completed this particular jigsaw puzzle and done some more research on dieting, I discovered that in fact I had compounded the original weight problem by starving my body into protecting me. Every time I starved myself, my body, in its overwhelming desire to survive, stopped processing food and stored it instead.

When our body perceives there to be a food shortage, it will take matters into its own hands. It is now a medically proven fact that such a condition exists; you will find details of the research into this condition on the Internet and in professional fitness publications. It is often called ‘Starvation Response’, or ‘Famine Response Syndrome’. These terms do not however adequately describe the condition for me. The body appears to detect both calorie restrictions and nutritional deficiency. A person could be taking in 3,000 calories per day, but if the food is very high in fats and sugars and has little nutritional value, the body will consider this to be a form of starvation. I have therefore changed the name of this response by the body to ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’. This is a condition that goes back to our very origins. It is more prevalent in women, because we were always the child-bearers and had to be able to nourish the unborn child. The female body’s response to famine was to store fat on the hips and thighs. This is the source from which the foetus would have taken its nourishment. I had underestimated the power of my own body to protect me, despite myself. The expression ‘between a rock and a hard place’ springs to mind. I had been in a no-win situation for years.

So now I had acquired two important pieces of information. Not only did I have chronic Candida, but I was also suffering from ‘Nutritional Deficiency Syndrome’.

That, however, had been the easy bit. The physical sources of my problem were not too difficult to uncover, with some dedicated detective work. Next a rather more painful exercise: a close look at my emotional track record.

You can find the introduction and the first three chapters of my book here.

©sallygeorginacronin 2001 – 2015

If you would like to know about Candida and more about the sugars that severely damaged my health then you can find more information here.

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